Wednesday, May 14, 2008

EDW: Politicians in morning dress

Have you seen the two twerps who have been following the 'Tory toff' Edward Timpson around Crewe in tail coats in a bid to undermine his attempt to convince the electors that the Conservative party is less contemptible than Labour? Their attempts to embarrass the Tory are horribly undermined by the fact that they can not carry off the outfits they have affected: cheap, button-down shirts, ill-fitting, off-the-peg clothes and grey top hats, all of which make them look very foolish indeed.

In truth, Timpson doesn't quite cut it as a toff. It was with some amusement mingled with horror that I learned he attended Uppingham school for a time; while I was there in fact. He would have been a year or two above me, but I cannot for the life of me remember him. I don't think he would have displayed any interest in politics*, anyhow, which makes him an ideal fit for the Cameron Conservatives.

In any case, Uppingham is not an especially grand or prestigious school. It prides itself in helping the more bovine members of the middle classes to succeed in their exams, making sure the bright ones aren't too full of themselves and in turning out dutiful, dull and decent types (again, perfect for the Cameron Conservatives), rather than the type who has the insouciance, certitude and born-to-rule manner which morning dress demands.

It is a form of clothing which makes particular demands on the wearer. You have to make yourself worthy of it. It's not simply a matter of class - as this picture of the aristocratic Churchill and the lower middle class, Welsh-speaking Lloyd George shows. They do, however, have the command of the conventions and clothing of the Edwardian ruling elite.

You need not approve of many of their views or actions (I don't, although I hope you share my view that standing up to Hitler was a good thing), but both these great statesmen of the last century offer a sartorial example to today's politicians.

Few modern politicians could carry it off. Regardless of their social background, they tend - with honourable exceptions - to have the souls of management consultants, spivs, solicitors and PR 'executives'; as such they dress accordingly.

* I do remember Jenny Willott, now a Lib Dem MP. She struck me as earnest, well-intentioned and rather dull. Ideal for being a prefect or a Lib Dem. Although, to be honest, her only memorable contribution to the 6th form debating society was to begin a speech with the phrase 'I'd like to expand on Mr Dornan's point.' The rest was lost in the puerile, public school sniggering that followed. Good training, for the Commons.

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16 Comments:

Blogger Glamourpuss said...

I yearn for a silk top hat.

Puss

11:01 am  
Blogger Political Umpire said...

"You need not approve of many of their views or actions (I don't, although I hope you share my view that standing up to Hitler was a good thing),"

And his drinking (Pol Roger, as we've both blogged before), his willingness to serve on the front line of a war once he'd lost his cabinet post, and of course his wit.

Such pictures incidentally remind me of the famous one of the urchins looking at two chaps outside the Eaton/Harrow match at Lord's in about 1930; I haven't managed to find it on the net, but it's a sure bet for an EDW if I do.

11:32 am  
Blogger bill said...

Ah yes, I know the picture you mean; a good illustration of how the clothes make the man (or boy).

My reservations were more about Lloyd George - particularly his financial shenanigans and his unleashing of the Black and Tans on Ireland. Lloyd George was, of course, rather abstemious when it came to booze: that should set off alarm bells.

12:42 pm  
Blogger Political Umpire said...

Well yes, not a man in the Churchillian league, no dispute there.

Incidentally I hadn't heard of Jenny Willott so I googled her - and found she was one of those who has clearly written her own Wikipedia entry. Says it all really. If I could be bothered (I can't) I would nominate it for deletion as being of insufficient public importance anyway.

3:52 pm  
Blogger Nick said...

Is there anything in the fact that Winnie is wearing a bowtie and DLG is wearing a 'normal' tie?

2:16 pm  
Blogger Nick said...

On further reflection, the class difference between DLG and Winnie is accentuated by Winnie's disregard for formality - bowtie with a wing-collar? really! - whereas DLG feels bound by convention.

Or maybe I really don't care, ere I sound like one of those pooterish provincial wantaways who hang on Alan Flusser's every word and can usually be found at blogs dedicated to fops and dandies.

2:24 pm  
Blogger bill said...

I think you're spot on there Nick. (Both about LG and Winnie and about the provincial wannabes - St Andrews does have that effect, I suppose). The rule is always: simplicity is the essence of dandyism; shun the ways of the fop lest you turn out like Elton John.

11:10 am  
Blogger Nick said...

Incidentally, an alumnus of your vintage, well-known I believe to you and Ven, and who apparently used to wear a red gown all the time and carried a stopwatch everywhere with him, is still fondly remembered by staff here.

There are very few striking or remarkable-looking people at St Andrews - though reportedly a couple of years ago one of the American students had previous as a porn actress ...

11:42 am  
Blogger bill said...

Gown man! I can't think that anyone who was in St Andrews at the time would forget him, certainly I could go on and on. He submitted his first essay in a Latin class in Latin. He was marked down for using a bastardised, medieval form of the language rather than pure, classical Latin.

I am most disappointed that no one got to the, erm, bottom of this alleged porn actress. Would it have been beyond the wit of man to research her oeuvre? Young people today, no initiative.

12:25 pm  
Blogger Quink said...

I'll never forget Gown Man's disquisition on the subject of women's ankles. Quite impossible to believe my eyes.

12:37 pm  
Anonymous Mortdecai said...

A complete digression (apart from perhaps to reference another fine East Midlands institution) but wondered if you had spotted that Swinesend has pride of place in the window display at Hatchards at the moment?

1:46 pm  
Blogger Tor Hershman said...

Foolish Interruption: an ill-timed interjection designed to display one's wit and intellect which leads only to scorn

Is there a pic of moi after "Foolism Interruption,"
should there be?

Well, here's a YouTube parody by moi,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LubuSAgB5s

now what'ja think 'bout that there 'pic' idea?

3:38 pm  
Blogger Nick said...

"I am most disappointed that no one got to the, erm, bottom of this alleged porn actress. Would it have been beyond the wit of man to research her oeuvre? Young people today, no initiative."

I heard tales of her from a lady catholic friend of mine who in turn is friendly with an infamously louche Irish catholic who dated said actress. Apparently, the girl in question was fond of asking strangers at balls if they would like to join her and her beau in a 3some. She allegedly also used to ask her beau to punch her because it turned her on. Even he baulked at that ...

4:17 pm  
Blogger Quink said...

mortdecai - you should have got a photo of that.

4:44 pm  
Blogger bill said...

I wasn't aware of that Mortdecai, much obliged to you for the info. It sounds a most elegantly dressed window, though.

Apparently, the girl in question was fond of asking strangers at balls if they would like to join her and her beau in a 3some.

There's always one, Nick. Those balls are hotbeds of vice, especially the Catholic charities ones.

8:37 pm  
Anonymous exposure to black mold said...

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7:04 pm  

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